April 18, 2014
Charles Grim of Seaford, Delaware is the first patient on the Delmarva Peninsula to have a coronary orbital atherectomy to clear severe calification in the arteries around his heart.  The morning after the procedure Mr. Grim prepared to leave Nanticoke Memorial Hospital saying “I felt better right away.”

Charles Grim is a tough man.  Originally from West Virginia, he and his wife, Sherry, moved to Delaware, following their children and grandchildren to Seaford, Delaware.  Together they have four children, ten grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.  Mr. Grim is a veteran of the Vietnam War and proud to have served.  Serving in an engineering unit he remembers the war clearly, from the soldiers he served with to the Vietnamese children who helped around camp.  “You saw some hard things there and you didn’t always know who to trust,” he said.  “It changes you.  It would change anyone.”


Mr. Grim returned from the war to West Virginia where he worked in the coal mines for 20 years.  “It’s a hard job.  I have seen tragedy and have pulled men from the mines.  But I liked what I did and we were family.” In fact, both Charles and Sherry had family that worked in the mines.  “My father and brothers worked there,” said Sherry Grim.   “He’s been hurt many times. You learn to live with the worry.”


Mr. Grim has seen a lifetime of change and has battled through many tough situations.  At 67 years old, he has also had two open heart surgeries, undergone stem cell therapy and had several cardiac stents put in his heart.   Mr. Grim suffers from coronary artery disease (CAD).


At a young age, plaque can begin to build in your coronary (heart) arteries.  Plaque ranges from soft to hard but as you get older, the plaque hardens becoming calcified.  This causes once flexible arteries to harden and they can become blocked.   “People who have severe calcification can be the most difficult to treat,” says Dr. Ivan Pena of Nanticoke Cardiology.  Treating patients with severe calcification using angioplasty (use of a balloon to open an artery or insert a stent) is not always an option.  When the plaque is hard, the amount of pressure needed to inflate the balloon can cause damage to the blood vessel.”


So, when Mr. Grim learned of a brand new procedure available at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital that would again open blood flow in his heart, he was immediately on board.  “Three weeks ago, I didn’t feel good.  I was getting sick and having some chest pain.  It was heaviness, a pressure on my chest,” said Mr. Grim.  “So I went to the hospital.  There they did a cardiac cath to see what was wrong.  There was a blockage.  At that time there wasn’t much they could do.  But they told me there was a new procedure they would be doing very soon.”


On Thursday, April 3, 2014, Mr. Grim became the first patient in Delaware and the first on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to have a coronary orbital atherectomy procedure.  He is in fact among the first in the country to receive this treatment.  “With the damage to Mr. Grim’s coronary arteries, he wouldn’t have likely had many options to help open the blockages just a few weeks ago,” said Peter Rosen, Director of Cardiology at Nanticoke.


Coronary orbital atherectomy is a new procedure that uses centrifugal force to orbit or spin around the inside the coronary artery or blood vessel.  This procedure uses a device with a diamond coated crown that sands away the calcium, turning it into microscopic particles that are naturally flushed from the body.  Orbital atherectomy is the first evidenced based procedure used to help defeat complex calcium.

Complex or severe coronary arterial calcium is an underestimated problem in medicine, with limited options for treatment. “Having a user-friendly device available to effectively treat severe coronary calcium may increase the safety of interventions for this difficult to treat problem,” said Dr. Gabriel Sardi, interventional cardiologists with Nanticoke Cardiology.

Cardiovascular Systems, Inc. (CSI) received PMA approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its Diamondback 360 Coronary Orbital Atherectomy System (OAS) as a treatment for severely calcified coronary arteries in October of 2013.  Nanticoke Health Services is among the first hospitals in the nation and the first on the Delmarva Peninsula to provide this treatment for CAD.

Orbital athetrectomy is currently being used is patients with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).  CAD and PAD are more likely to be found in people who are 65 or older, are diabetic or have kidney disease.  The procedure at Nanticoke is being performed by Drs. Ivan Pena-Sing and Gabriel Sardi, both interventional cardiologists with Nanticoke Cardiology in Seaford, Delaware.

Mr. Grim is thankful to the physicians who have taken very good care of him and hopes that by sharing his story it will help others.  “Maybe someone who needs help, who this new procedure could help, will know there is a new option and will call their doctor,” he said.  “I immediately felt better.  The heaviness was gone.  My chest feels light,” said Mr. Grim.  “It has been a good experience.  The staff in the cath lab took very good care of me, the doctors did a great job and the staff on the floor has been very good.  Now I’m ready to go home, have some of my wife’s cooking and be with my family.”


Nanticoke Memorial Hospital has been named one of the Best 100 Places to Work in Healthcare by Becker’s Hospital Review for three years in a row. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital holds a Level III trauma status and includes an expanding interventional cardiology program. Nanticoke is nationally certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and is a Gold Plus Award performer according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®. Nanticoke’s medical staff includes over 120 active and community affiliate staff physicians practicing in 40 different specialties. For more information, please visit